Thank you so, so, so incredibly much for your warm and thoughtful wishes last week on my 5th blog anniversary. I can’t quite imagine it either, for the record. And the thought of five more years here seems both daunting and inevitable. I want to respond to your questions, and will do so in a couple of posts because a few constellations of themes emerged.
Several questions grouped around the topic of why I started blogging, what the journey has been like, and how I feel about sharing personal things about myself and my children here. Is there anything I regret or would change about my kind of blogging, what did I hope to gain from it, has writing here led me down unanticipated paths, when I started did I imagine I’d be writing the things I am now?
Of course it’s taken me 37 years to realize that it is not a coincidence that you’re asking me questions that have already been on my mind lately. Launa can tell you that I’ve been thinking about these very topics recently.
I started blogging because there was so much I was afraid I would forget. The first year of my life as a mother is a blur, to be honest, streaked with tears, rain, a baby’s colicky cries, late-night phone calls about heart transplants, and more tears. An ocean of tears. Eventually, once I found my balance again, I became aware of all the small things I didn’t want to lose. I remember writing Grace a letter on her 2nd birthday (a tradition I’ve continued on this blog) – that is probably the first time I felt pushed back to the page, to the keyboard, in an effort to memorialize the mundane moments that I somehow knew were the stuff of my life.
My blog came out of that impulse. Even before I was consciously aware of it, something deep inside me knew that life itself was in these little things, the light in the sky, the lyrics of a lullabye, or the funny things my children said. This was just one example of what I now recognize as a pattern in my life: something essential is known to me in a deep, inchoate way long before I could articulate it.
And, yes, absolutely, this blog has led me places I never imagined. I definitely thought of it as a personal or family scrapbook for a long time. And then, imperceptibly but irrevocably, it became something else. The five years of archives here are a record of my own awakening, my own gradual movement into a set of questions that continue to fascinate and preoccupy me. I now have a map of my wandering around my own brain. Also, importantly, blogging reminded me of my intense passion for writing, something I had frankly forgotten. Because of this blog I have started – and finished a draft of – a memoir, written half of a novel, joined a writing class with my writing idol, and allowed myself to dream of a life in which writing is a central part.
Now, the stuff that has been on my mind. Is there anything I’d change, anything I regret, do I worry about putting pictures of the kids up here? In short no, no, and yes. I wouldn’t change anything about what I share here, because of all the ways that writing this blog has enriched my life and my sense of myself. My writing is instinctive and I can’t imagine blogging about less personal things. But it is true that as my children get older I feel more concerned about sharing certain things about them. I have always tried to write about my experience, but Grace and Whit are the main characters in these stories. I feel more and more aware of certain things belonging to them now, and not to me.
I have always written frankly about the things I find difficult in mothering and about Grace and Whit’s challenges and struggles. This candor marks me in person, too: I have written about how I feel both aware of and guilty about my willingness (need?) to present the unvarnished truth of my life. I assure you, I have been judged on the playground. As Grace and Whit get older, though, I feel newly constrained about sharing certain things. There remains plenty of conflict and struggle for me on this mothering journey, and I’m wrestling with how to represent my path and experience honestly while respecting those two little people who didn’t ask to be written about. Why do I have to represent it at all? Because I figure out what I think when I write. And, much more importantly, because I benefit so tremendously – I feel encouraged, taught, and heartened – when I read similarly honest accounts from other mothers about their own paths.
As to the photos and personal details, well, yes, that’s something I fret about too. A reader emailed me several months ago saying that my willingness to put those things out here reflected my belief that the universe is a benevolent place, a generosity of spirit that she hoped would be reflected back to me. I don’t know that I had thought about it that way but on reflection I think that is part of my motivation. Also, more simply, I started writing and sharing photos when nobody was reading. I oscillate between thinking that actually anyone can find anyone on these enormous interwebz and suspecting that I ought to be a lot more guarded in what I present. I don’t have a good answer here, but I can tell you I think about it a lot.
More questions and answers soon!! Thank you again for your thoughtful and thought-provoking responses, last week and always.
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